A common yeast can cause problems for Crohn’s patients

A fungal yeast found in cheese and other foods can wreak havoc on the guts of people with Crohn’s disease, according to the new findings. In a study published Thursday, researchers found evidence that Crohn’s patients are more likely to carry this yeast than people without the disease, and that this yeast is linked to the slow-healing intestinal wounds that patients tend to have. . If valid, the findings could lead to new treatments and preventive measures for the chronic and painful condition.

Crohn’s disease is one of the best known versions of inflammatory diseases. bowel disease (IBD). There is no clear cause for IBD, but genetics and a poorly functioning immune system are suspected to play a role. Patients experience a wide range of mainly gastrointestinal symptoms caused by chronic inflammation of the intestine, which appear and disappear as flare-ups of the disease. These include diarrhea, fever, severe cramps, and weight loss. Although there are medications that can control symptoms, along with subsistence allowance To help people avoid potential triggers for an episode, few patients experience sustained remission.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic and elsewhere have been studying Crohn’s disease for a while in hopes of finding something that can help explain how and why the gut becomes so damaged in these patients. Your new research, published in science, it points to a possible culprit: a fungus called Debaryomyces hansenii.

The scientists studied mice that were made to develop Crohn’s-like symptoms, as well as samples of intestinal tissue from people diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In both groups, they found a large number of D. hansenii around injured or inflamed tissue, but not in samples taken from healthy people or in non-inflamed tissue from Crohn’s patients.

They found the fungi in all seven samples taken from a group of Crohn’s patients, for example, but only in one of the 10 healthy controls used as a comparison. They also found evidence that this yeast was directly related to slow intestinal wound healing in mice. And when they took samples of the fungi from a Crohn’s patient or diseased mice and gave them to a new group of healthy mice, the mice’s ability to heal intestinal wounds worsened. This effect was later reversed when the mice were given an antifungal treatment.

All of the findings combined, the researchers say, meet Koch’s postulates, a criterion scientists use to show that a specific microbe is causing a specific set of symptoms. In other words, it suggests that D. hansenii it is not just a harmless bystander found in the guts of these patients, but an active source of trouble. At this point, it is not known how patients might be exposed to the fungi, or if yeast-rich foods, such as cheese, could be a source.

“We propose that D. hansenii it inhibits the repair of ulcers in the inner lining of the intestine in patients with Crohn’s disease, ”study author Thaddeus Stappenbeck, chair of the Department of Inflammation and Immunity at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, told Gizmodo in an email. “This feature is a hallmark of many Crohn’s patients with moderate to severe disease.”

According to his current theory, yeast infection does not cause Crohn’s disease itself, Stappenbeck added. Rather, it “perpetuates the disease that has already started.”

The findings are still based on a small group of patients and animal research, so they shouldn’t be seen as definitive proof of the team’s theory. And even if they are right, Crohn’s disease and IBD in general will still be a complex disease with symptoms that cannot be fully explained by a single microbe. In the mice they studied, for example, fungal overgrowth only occurred after the mice were given antibiotics. Other investigations have pointed to antibiotics as a possible risk factor for Crohn’s disease, as they can alter the delicate microscopic environment of our gut, called the gut microbiome.

If future research continues to show a strong link between Crohn’s disease and D. hanseniiHowever, it could lead to important new treatments and strategies for managing the disease. “For patients with D. hansenii on their ulcers, we envision trying antifungal medications, ”Stappenbeck said. “We hope this will also stimulate the development of antifungals with fewer side effects.”

Another area of ​​research might involve focusing on how D. hansenii seems to cause intestinal inflammation in the body, through a protein called CC5 that is produced by some immune cells. And since yeast is commonly found in cheese and other processed foods, it might be worthwhile for patients in general to avoid these foods, the researchers say. The team also plans to continue studying how yeast interacts with the gut microbiome and immune systems of people with Crohn’s disease.

This article has been updated with comments from one of the study authors.


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